Monarch Announce First-Ever European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

monarch

San Diego classic heavy rock pastoralists Monarch were already announced as taking part in Desertfest London and Esbjerg Fuzztival, so a tour was suspected, but it’s nice to have confirmation that, indeed, that’s the plan. The five-piece will go abroad for the first time while supporting their second album, Beyond the Blue Sky (review here), which came out last August on El Paraiso Records. The final date of the run is the aforementioned Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark, where they’ll join fellow San Diegans Sacri Monti as well as El Paraiso label heads Causa Sui on the bill, rounding out the tour on what would seem to be a planned high note. It’s a month-long stretch, so as an initial incursion abroad it’s not unambitious, but I have a hard time imagining they won’t find welcome in all corners.

Tour is presented by Ya Ya Yeah Booking and El Paraiso. Here’s the band’s announcement:

MONARCH TOUR

Very excited to announce our maiden voyage across the pond this upcoming spring! More dates TBA. Thanks to Ya Ya Yeah and El Paraiso Records for helping us make this happen! See you soon Europe…

09 APR FR Le Havre Mc Daid’s
10 APR FR Clermont-Ferrand Raymond Bar
11 APR BE Liege Insert Name Festival #6
12 APR DE Kusel Willkommen im Dschungel
14 APR DE Aachen The Wild Rover Irish Pub
15 APR PL Poznan Klub u Bazyla
16 APR PL Gdansk GAK Plama
17 APR DE Berlin Zukunft am Ostkreuz HEADZ UP
18 APR PL Cracow Warsztat
19 APR PL Warsaw Potok : Drugi Dom Ludzi Rocka
21 APR DE Dresden Chemiefabrik
24 APR IT Sezzadio Cascina Bellaria Music Club
25 APR IT Pescara Tube Cult Fest
26 APR IT Treviso Krach Club
28 APR FR Troyes The Message
29 APR FR Nantes La Scène Michelet
02 MAY NL Zwolle Eureka Zwolle
03 MAY UK London Desertfest London
04 MAY UK Bournemouth Anvil Rockbar Bournemouth
05 MAY FR Rouen Le 3 Pièces Muzik’Club
06 MAY FR Dijon MondoFuzz
07 MAY FR Paris La Pointe Lafayette
09 MAY DK Esbjerg Esbjerg Fuzztival

Monarch is:
Dominic Denholm – Guitar/Vocals
Thomas Dibenedetto – Guitar
James Upton – Guitar
Matt Weiss – Bass
Andrew Ware – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/monarchbrothers/
https://www.instagram.com/mon_arch_bros/
https://monarch4.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/elparaisorecords/
https://www.instagram.com/elparaisorecords/
https://elparaisorecords.com/shop
https://www.yayayeahmusic.pt/

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Great Electric Quest to Release Live at Freak Valley March 27

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 4th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

great electric quest

I’m not usually the type to go in on a release on the basis of one song, but let’s face it, Great Electric Quest covering Deep Purple‘s “Highway Star” could hardly be more appropriate. And they nail it as they wrap their set on Live at Freak Valley. Well established across their two studio full-lengths as being rad in the long-running West Coast tradition of heavy rock radness, the four-piece took to European stages last summer and included a stop at the Siegen, Germany-based festival that was captured and will see issue through Ripple Music on March 27. The cover isn’t streaming yet, if it will at all in advance of the release, but they’ve got “Seeker of the Flame,” taken from 2018’s Chapter II: Of Earth (review here), available to check out down below and it gives a pretty good sense of the energy they bring to the stage.

Never having had the pleasure myself, I’m nonetheless aware of the reputation for bombast Great Electric Quest have when it comes to performing live. It’s not hard to imagine them climbing amps and going all-in for this one as you listen.

From the PR wire:

great electric quest live at freak valley

GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST share details for upcoming “Live At Freak Valley” album on Ripple Music!

The mighty rock’n’roll crusaders have returned! After touring extensively in North America and Europe, San Diego’s one and only GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST return with their blazing hot “Live From Freak Valley” album this March 27th on Ripple Music. Listen to a first excerpt now!

With “Live At Freak Valley”, GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST are about to establish their mighty reign over the heavy rock underground for good. If headbanging to their first two albums “Chapter I” and “Chapter II” wasn’t enough, you are about to experience the exhilarating force of their live shows through this absolutely must-have live record. Clocking in at one full hour, the band delivers with maestria those epic vocals, high-flying solos, proto-metal grooves and jam-laden turnarounds they are known for: electricity instantly fills the air while the crowd jubilates… You’ve just been thunderstruck by the sheer awesomeness of Rock’n’Roll’s saviours GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST.

Guitarist Buddy Donner comments: “Ahhhhhhhh yeah! Freak Valley Festival 2019 was the absolute highlight of our three-month “Beer Wars Tour”. Journeying from the west coast of North America to Canada and all over Europe, nothing topped the vibe at Freak Valley Festival in Netphen, Germany. A sold-out gathering of 2500 people, but it felt like everyone knew each other. One massive Rock’n’Roll Family. It was an honor to share the stage with Corrosion of Conformity, Wolfmother, Brant Bjork, Dead Lord, DeWolff and so many more. We are quite excited to release a live version of our performance at this event, and most honored to be releasing this with the mighty Ripple Music! It’s been a long time coming!”

GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST “Live At Freak Valley” Out March 27th on Ripple Music

TRACK LISTING:
1. In The Flesh
2. Seeker Of The Flame
3. Of Earth Part I
4. Of Earth Part II
5. Of Earth Part III
6. Victim Of Changes
7. The Madness
8. Heart Of The Son
9. Wicked Hands
10. Highway Star (Deep Purple cover)

GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST is
Tyler “T-Sweat” Dingvell – Vocals
Buddy Donner – Guitar
Daniel “MuchoDrums” Velasco – Drums
Jared Bliss – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/electricquest/
https://electricquest.bandcamp.com/
http://greatelectricquest.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
https://www.ripple-music.com/

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Sacri Monti Announce UK & European Tour Dates with More to Come

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

sacri monti

So I guess Sacri Monti just kind of live in Europe now? Don’t get me wrong, I get the appeal. But the ostensibly San Diego-based band have kept their focus when it comes to touring decidedly on the other side of the Atlantic, and they’ll be there for more than a month solid this Spring as they continue to support last year’s right-on Waiting Room for the Magic Hour (review here), so yeah, at some point don’t you legally establish residency? Have to wonder where taxes are cheaper.

There are dates to fill in and a new tour poster reportedly in the works, but with the tour freshly announced and no shortage of dates anyhow, this one seemed worth highlighting as it is. If the worst that happens is I follow-up with another post when a proper press release goes out, at least they earned it.

Here’s their post:

sacri monti euro uk tour 2020

Sacri Monti – Europe 2020

Tour dates for May and June still a few more dates TBA. Once all squared we will announce with new artwork.

EUROPE/UK 2020
30.04.20 NL Tilburg Cul De Sac
1.05.20 NL Nijmegen Sonic Whip Fest
3.05.20 UK London Desertfest
4.05.20 FRA Le Havre Mc Daid
5.05.20 FRA Paris l’International
6.05.20 BE Ghent Kinky Star
7.05.20 NL Utrecht Db’s
8.05.20 DE Gronigen Vera
9.05.20 DK Odense Fuzztival
13.05.20 DE Berlin Zukunft am Ostkreuz (Garage)
14.05.20 CZ Bílina Kafá?
15.05.20 DE Lohr am Main Umson und Dressen Festival
16.05.20 DE Siegen Vortex
17.05.20 DE Karlsruhe P8
19.05.20 ITA Zero Branco Treviso Altroquando
20.05.20 ITA Bolzano Sudwerk
22.05.20 DE Dresden GockelScream #3
23.05.20 DE Aschaffenburg Hannebambel
24.05.20 CH Martigny Caves Du Manoir
25.05.20 FRA Clermont Ferrand Chorus
26.05.20 FRA Montpellier The Black Sheep
27.05.20 ES Barcelona Upload Club
28.05.20 ES Madrid Sala Rockville
29.05.20 PT Porto Woodstock 69
1.06.20 ES San Sebastián Dabadaba
2.06.20 FRA Tolouse L’Usine à Musique
3.06.20 FRA Bordeaux astrodøme QG
4.06.20 FRA Nantes La Scene Michelet
5.06.20 UK Bristol The Crofters Rights
8.06.20 UK London Secret place
7.06.20 UK Liverpool kazimier stockroom

Sacri Monti is:
Brenden Dellar -Guitar
Dylan Donovan- Guitar
Anthony Meier- Bass
Evan Wenskay- Organ, Synth
Thomas Dibenedetto- Drums

https://www.facebook.com/sacrimontiband/
https://www.instagram.com/sacri_monti_band/
https://sacrimonti.bigcartel.com/
https://soundcloud.com/sacri-monti
teepeerecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/teepeerecords/
https://teepeerecords.bandcamp.com/

Sacri Monti, Waiting Room for the Magic Hour (2019)

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Quarterly Review: We Lost the Sea, Nebula Drag, Nothing is Real, Lotus Thief, Uncle Woe, Cybernetic Witch Cult, Your Highness, Deep Valley Blues, Sky Shadow Obelisk, Minus Green

Posted in Reviews on January 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Yesterday was marked by a decisive lack of productivity. I got there, don’t get me wrong, but it took friggin’ forever to make it happen. I’m obviously hoping for a different result today and tomorrow. You would think 10 records is 10 records, but some days it’s easy flowing, bounce from one to the next without any trouble, and some days you’re me sitting there wondering how many times you can get away with using the word “style” in the same post. Punishing. The saving factor was that the music was good. Amazing how often that serves as the saving factor.

Just today and tomorrow left, so let’s dive in. Lots of different kinds of releases today, so keep your ears and mind open.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

We Lost the Sea, Triumph and Disaster

we lost the sea triumph and disaster

There is plenty of heavy post-rock floating — and I do mean floating — around these days, spreading ethereal and contemplative vibes hither and yon, but none have the emotional weight brought to bear instrumentally by Sydney, Australia’s We Lost the Sea. Across their 65-minute 2LP, Triumph and Disaster (on Translation Loss), the six-piece band recount a wordless narrative of the aftermath of the end of the world through the eyes of a mother and child on their last day. It is a touching and beautiful flow of sentiment, regret and weight that comes through the wash of three guitars and synth, bass and drums, and though 2015’s Departure Songs (review here, discussed here) worked in a similar vein in terms of style if not story, these seven tracks and 65 minutes are wholly distinguished by a willful-seeming progression on the part of the band and a patience and poise of execution as they alternate between longer and shorter pieces that only underscores how special their work truly is. At least the apocalypse is gorgeous.

We Lost the Sea on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss store

 

Nebula Drag, Blud

nebula drag blud

Nothing against the progenitors of the form, but Nebula Drag seem with Blud to pull off the feat that Helmet never really could, bringing together a noise-rock derived dissonance of riff with a current of melody in the vocals and even moments of patience in the guitar to go along with the crunch of its more aggressive points. This inherently makes the Desert Records offering from the San Diego outfit a less outwardly intense affair than it might otherwise be, but songs like “Always Dying,” “Numb” and the closer “Mental” — as well as the album as a whole — are ultimately richer for it, and there’s still plenty of drive in opener “Dos Lados” and the shorter “Faces” and “What Went Wrong,” which arrive back to back on side B and lend the momentum that carries Nebula Drag through the remainder of the proceedings. It’s easy to hear to Blud superficially and pass it off as noise or heavy rock or this or that, but Nebula Drag earn and reward deeper listens in kind.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Desert Records on Bandcamp

 

Nothing is Real, Pain is Joy

nothing is real pain is joy

Los Angeles oppressive and misanthropic noise project Nothing is Real manifested some of the harshest sounds I heard in 2019 on Only the Wicked are Pure (review here), and the just-months-later follow-up, Pain is Joy, reminds of the constant sensory assault under which we all seem to live. Across five extended tracks of increased production value — still raw, just not as raw — the band seems to be forming a coherent philosophical perspective in “Existence is Pain,” the guest-vocalized “Realms of Madness,” “Life is but a Dream,” “Pain is Joy,” and “We Must Break Free,” but if there’s a will to explain the punishment that is living, there’s not much by way of answer forthcoming in the sludgy riffing, grinding onslaught and surprising solo soar of “We Must Break Free,” instrumental as it is. Still, the fact that Pain is Joy allows for the possibility of joy to exist at all, in any form, ever, distinguishes it from its predecessor, and likewise the clearer sound and cogent expressive purpose. A focused attack suits Nothing is Real. I have the feeling it won’t be long before we find out where it takes the band next.

Nothing is Real on Thee Facebooks

Nothing is Real on Bandcamp

 

Lotus Thief, Oresteia

lotus thief Oresteia

If the name Oresteia isn’t immediately familiar, maybe “Agamemnon” will give some hint. San Francisco’s Lotus Thief, with their third full-length and second for Prophecy Productions, not only bring together progressive black metal, post-rock and drama-laced doom, but do so across eight-tracks and 38 minutes summarizing a 5th century Greek tragedy written in three parts. Ambitious? Yes. Successful? I’ll claim zero familiarity with the text itself, but for the eight-minute “Libation Bearers” alone — never mind any of the other immersive, beautiful wash the band emits throughout — I’m sure glad they’re engaging with it. Ambient stretches like “Banishment” and “Woe” and the barely-there “Reverence” add further character to the proceedings, but neither are “The Furies,” “Agamemnon,” “Sister in Silence” or subdued-but-tense closer “The Kindly Ones” lacking for atmosphere. Oresteia is grim, theatrical, stylistically forward-thinking and gorgeous. A perfect, perfect, perfect winter record.

Lotus Thief website

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Uncle Woe, Our Unworn Limbs

Uncle Woe Our Unworn Limbs

Chugging, sprawling, and most of all reaching, the late-2019 debut LP, Our Unworn Limbs, from Ontario as-yet-solo-outfit Uncle Woe — composed, performed and recorded by Rain Fice — is one of marked promise, taking elements of modern progressive and cosmic doom from the likes of YOB‘s subtly angular riffing style and unfolding them across an emotionally resonant but still manageable 43-minute span. The stomp in “That’s How They Get You” is duly oppressive in following the opener “Son of the Queen,” but with the one-minute experiment “When the Night Fell Pt. 2” and jagged but harmonized “Mania for Breaking” ahead of 15-minute closer “Push the Blood Back In,” the record’s tumult and triumphs are presented with character and a welcome feeling of exploration. I would expect over time that the melodic basis and vocal presence Fice demonstrates in “Mania for Breaking” will continue to grow, but both are already significant factors in the success of that song and the album surrounding it, the first 20-plus minutes of which is spent mired in “Son of the Queen” and “That’s How They Get You,” as early proof of the sure controlling hand at the helm of the project. May it continue to be so.

Uncle Woe on Thee Facebooks

Uncle Woe on Bandcamp

 

Cybernetic Witch Cult, Absurdum ad Nauseam

cybernetic witch cult absurdam ad nauseam

Guitarist/vocalist Alex Wyld, bassist Doug MacKinnon and drummer Lewis May have processed the world around them and translated it into a riffy course of sci-fi and weirdo semi-prog thematics across Absurdum ad Nauseam. What else to call such a thing? At eight songs and 52 minutes, it stands astride the lines between heavy rock and doom and sludge in lengthier pieces like “The Cetacean,” “The Ivory Tower” and the finale “Hypercomputer Part 2,” yet when it comes to picking out discernible influences, one has to result to generalizations like Black Sabbath and Acrimony, the latter in the rolling largesse of “Spice” and “The Myth of Sisyphus” later on in the outing and the vocal effects there particularly, but neither is enough to give a sense of what Cybernetic Witch Cult are actually about in terms of the modernity of their approach and the it’s-okay-we-know-what-we’re-doing-just-trust-us vibe they bring as they rush through “Cromagnonaut” after the intro and “Hypercomputer Part 1.” I’m inclined to just go with it, which should tell you something in itself about the band’s ability to carry their listener through. They earn that trust.

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Thee Facebooks

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Bandcamp

 

Your Highness, Your Highness

Your Highness Your Highness

Heavy blues meets heavy metal on Your Highness‘ self-titled and self-released third album, collecting eight tracks that divide evenly across two sides of an LP, each half ending with a longer piece, whether it’s “Black Fever” (9:00) on side A or “Kin’s Blood” (14:14) on side B. Through these, in full-throttle movements like opener “Devil’s Delight” and “Rope as a Gift” and in nestled-in groovers like “The Flood” and “To Wood and Stone,” Your Highness don’t shy away from bringing a sense of atmosphere to their material, but maintain a focus on burl, gruffness and tonal weight, an aggressive undercurrent in a song like “Born Anew” — the riff to which is nonetheless particularly bluesy — being emblematic of the perspective on display throughout. It moves too fleetly to ever be considered entirely sludge, but Your Highness‘ 51-minute span is prone to confrontation just the same, and its ferocious aspects come to a head in satisfying fashion as the wash of crash pays off “Kin’s Blood,” shouts cutting through en route to a finish of acoustic guitar that lands as a reminder to release the breath you’ve been holding the whole time. Heavy stuff? Why yes, it is.

Your Highness on Thee Facebooks

Your Highness on Bandcamp

 

Deep Valley Blues, Demonic Sunset

Deep Valley Blues Demonic Sunset

Italy’s fervor for stoner rock is alive and well as represented in Demonic Sunset, the eight-song/34-minute debut full-length from Catanzaro’s Deep Valley Blues. Their sound works out to be more heavy rock than the desert one might imagine given the album cover, but that influence is still there, if beefed up tonally by guitarists Alessandro Morrone and Umberto Arena (the latter also backing vocals), bassist/vocalist Giando Sestito and drummer Giorgio Faini, whose fluid turns between propulsion and swing enable a song like “Dana Skully” to come together in its verse/chorus transitions. The penultimate nine-minute “Tired to Beg For” is an outlier among more straight-ahead songwriting, but they use the time well and close with the acoustic-led “Empire,” an encouraging showcase of sonic breadth to follow up on the start of “Lust Vegas” and a widening of the melodic range that one hopes Deep Valley Blues push further on subsequent releases. Centered around issues of mental health in terms of its lyrics, if somewhat vaguely, Demonic Sunset is a first LP that extends its focus to multiple levels while still keeping its feet on the ground in a way that will be familiar to experienced genre heads.

Deep Valley Blues on Thee Facebooks

Deep Valley Blues on Bandcamp

 

Sky Shadow Obelisk, The Satyr’s Path

sky shadow obelisk the satyrs path

You can toss a coin as to whether Sky Shadow Obelisk are death-doom or doom-death, but as you do, just keep an eye on the bludgeoning doled out by the solo-project of Rhode Island-based composer Peter Scartabello on his latest EP, The Satyr’s Path, because it is equal parts thorough and ferocious. Flourish of keys and melody adds a progressive edge to the proceedings across the five-track release, particularly in its two instrumentals, the centerpiece “Ouroboros” and the first half of closer “Shadow of Spring,” but amid the harnessed madness of “Chain of Hephaestus” — which from its lyrics I can only think of as a work song — and the one-two of “The Serpent’s Egg” and the title-track early on, those moments of letup carry a tension of mood that even the grand finish in “Shadow of Spring” seems to acknowledge. It’s been since 2015 that Scartabello last offered up a Sky Shadow Obelisk full-length. He shows enough scope here to cover an album’s worth of ground, but on the most basic level, I’d take more if it was on offer.

Sky Shadow Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

Yuggoth Records on Bandcamp

 

Minus Green, Equals Zero

Minus Green Equals Zero

Following up on a 2015 self-titled the material on Minus Green‘s sophomore album, Equals Zero, would seem to have at least in part been kicking around for a couple years, as the closer here, “Durial” (11:22) was released in a single version in 2016. Fair enough. If the other three cuts, opener “Primal” (9:58), “00” (11:51) and the penultimate “Kames” (10:08), have also been developed over that span, the extra rumination wouldn’t seem to have harmed them at all — they neither feel overthought to a point of staleness nor lack anything in terms of the natural vibe that their style of progressive instrumentalist heavy psychedelia warrants. The procession unfolds as a cleanly-structured LP with two songs per side arranged shorter-into-longer, and their sound is duly immersive to give an impression of exploration underway without being entirely jam-based in their structure. That is, listening to “00,” one gets the feeling it’s headed somewhere, which, fortunately it is. Where it and the record surrounding go ultimately isn’t revolutionary in aesthetic terms, but it is well performed and more than suitable for repeat visits. Contrary to the impression they might seek to give, it amounts to more than nothing.

Minus Green on Thee Facebooks

Kerberos Records website

 

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Streaming Interview: Parker Griggs of Radio Moscow Discusses New Project El Perro

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on September 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

parker griggs (Photo by Beth Vandeven)

Not much is known at this point about El Perro. Pages on Thee Facebooks and Instagram went up on Wednesday afternoon and there’s a short teaser on the latter with a floating logo and a righteous riff, but not much else to go on. A new band getting together is cool, don’t get me wrong, but the reason it’s news is because the brains behind the outfit happen to be those of Parker Griggs, founding guitarist/vocalist of heavy psych blues and speed boogie masters Radio Moscow. Griggs has assembled the new outfit as a means of exploring some influences beyond what Radio Moscow does, specifically looking to bands who blended funk and heavy and/or psychedelic rock in the early ’70s like Cymande, Black Merda and others in the sphere of what was called Black rock at the time, as well of course as the work Jimi Hendrix was doing a few years prior.

He’s gotten a full four-piece together and they’ll play their first three shows as a weekender at the start of November, beginning as support for none other than Brant Bjork in Las Vegas at a gig presented by Vegas Rock Revolution, and continuing through two subsequent nights in Costa Mesa and Los Angeles. Griggs, of course, is no stranger to touring with Radio Moscow, but it’s early days with El Perro, so probably best to start out with the weekender rather than hit the road for a month right off the bat. Makes sense if you think about it, especially as no one has heard any of the material in question.

There are songs, though. About a set’s worth. I’ve heard two demos from the band with the working titles “New One” and “Sitar Song” and the percussive groove is met by Griggs‘ spacey shred and bluesy vocal delivery. It’s a different vibe from Radio Moscow in that it’s a little more jam-ready — at least “New One” is; “Sitar Song” is a tight two and a half minutes, but damn that’s a funky two and a half minutes — and as Griggs notes, a little more based around the groove rather than the frenetic movement of his longer-running outfit. I’ll take it happily and look forward to more in 2020.

It’s a short interview because, well, Griggs isn’t really Mr. Chatty and the band hasn’t played a show yet, but if you’ve got a few minutes, he talks about putting the band together, what he’s going for with the sound, the upcoming shows and how El Perro relates to Radio Moscow in the grand scheme of Griggs‘ style.

Please enjoy:

Interview with Parker Griggs of El Perro

 

el perro logo

A brand new cosmic and groovy music ensemble formed and led by Parker Griggs of Radio Moscow. We are here and we’re coming to GETCHA!

First shows!

November 1st in Las Vegas @ Counts Vamp’d with Brant Bjork

November 2nd in Costa Mesa @ The Wayfarer with LOVE (revisited)

November 3rd in LA @ The Viper ROOM with Deathchant

Stay tuned for more news coming soon!

 

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El Perro on Thee Facebooks

El Perro on Instagram

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Friday Full-Length: Earthless, Sonic Prayer Jam

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Earthless, Sonic Prayer Jam (2005/2012)

 

You can’t really talk about Earthless without talking about the live experience — about watching Isaiah MitchellMike Eginton and Mario Rubalcaba wail on their songs and ride to the point of consumption what’s as close to genuinely classic heavy rock as anything you’ll ever find outside of 1973 regardless of any vintage posturing other acts might do. Sonic Prayer was their debut album in 2005, and Sonic Prayer Jam was the subsequent live 10″. Both were released by Gravity Records, and the latter was reissued in 2012 as a 54-minute beast they still basically call an EP — and I guess you can do that kind of thing when you’re Earthless and no one thinks twice about “Sonic Prayer Jam Part 1” being nearly 32 minutes long — and though 14 years later it might seem primitive in comparison to the band that Earthless would mature into being, there are more than a few key signifiers in the audio that remain the core of their approach. Mitchell‘s guitar weaves seamlessly between shred and effects-soaked sprawl. Eginton‘s bass provides the grounding element in its crucial repetitions from which the other players explore outer reaches. And Rubalcaba is not only in-pocket and on-swing, but he propels the proceedings outright. Like, kaboom.

It’s kind of funny how, given how much reverence and hyperbole has been tossed Earthless‘ way especially in recent years, you don’t really hear much about their beginnings. There isn’t much hype around the “origin story.” Rubalcaba was in Hot Snakes and Rocket from the CryptMitchell was in Lions of Judah, and Eginton was in a band called Electric Nazarene. Then they decided to form a band and were in Earthless together. Pretty straightforward, but I guess there’s an important narrative happening beneath that as well in the lack of narrative. Think of it this way: the way that story tells it, Earthless just happened. There was no great band meeting about “what are we going to sound like?” or anything like that. They plugged in, jammed, were able to follow where the songs were leading them and decided to stay there. I don’t know how accurate that is, but it certainly suits the righteous sonic spread the three-piece have conjured over the last decade and a half, and the influence they had on a San Diego-based band boom comprising a generation’s worth of players with an affinity for classic heavy rock that, at least in part, is an affinity for Earthless‘ affinity.

As for Sonic Prayer Jam, how you listen to it depends widely on format. If you get the 10″ — still possible on the secondary market — the set recorded at The Casbah earthless sonic prayer jamon Jan. 3, 2004, is edited. If you get the 12″, it’s edited differently. If you get the CD, which is also the 2012 reissue version, “Sonic Prayer Jam” itself is still split into two part, but the first runs the aforementioned 32 minutes and the “Sonic Prayer Jam Part 2” answers back at 16:55 before they close with “Cherry Red” at 5:31. I’m not sure I’m comfortable calling one definitive and the others not, but the more the merrier, really. Especially in hindsight, the raw, echoing, looping effects and exploratory vibe of Sonic Prayer Jam shows how right Earthless were even at that nascent point in their career, and while they weren’t by any means the first heavy band to offer longform jamming, or even the first American band of their generation to do so, there could be no denying the power of their delivery, whether it’s Rubalcaba punishing his snare as “Sonic Prayer Jam Part 1” noisily transitions into the subsequent second portion or the ultra-tight winding direction of “Cherry Red.” A lot of bands kill it right from the start, but Earthless were Earthless already in 2004 and Sonic Prayer Jam proves it. It was just a matter of everyone else figuring it out.

Their material, especially their studio stuff, would become more plotted, but Earthless have remained keenly aware of what they bring to the stage in playing live, and they’ve done well to continue to represent that. Still, in highlighting an earlier moment for the band, Sonic Prayer Jam nonetheless offers more than academic value for the already-converted. Even if one didn’t know the band or what they were about, it’s the kind of thing you put on and someone says, “Who is this?” Rightly so. The whole point of Earthless even in their early going would seem to have been to blow minds. “Sonic Prayer Jam Part 1” finds them so dug into the proceedings that they barely manage to resurface before shifting into the next phase of the jam, and by tossing out a masterful wash of effects amid extended solos, punctuated with a nigh-on-manic sense of purpose in the drums and bass, Earthless put emphasis on the fact that it was the sheer level of their performance more than any grand stylistic statement that was going to distinguish them over the longer term, though admittedly, they’ve been widely influential in terms of style as well, as manifest in the number of other outfits who try to capture even a fraction of the vitality in Sonic Prayer Jam, some succeeding to a degree, but no one ultimately coming close to what Earthless do and did — as Sonic Prayer Jam shows — even in their formative years.

And yes, “Cherry Red” has vocals. Falsetto vocals, at that. It was legitimately a big deal when last year Earthless offered up Black Heaven (review here) and reshuffled their priorities to feature vocals and more straightforward songcraft, but it wasn’t exactly out of nowhere. And sure enough, Black Heaven had a complementary live outing in later 2018’s From the West (review here), in similar fashion to From the Ages (review here) being followed by a couple of limited live releases or 2007’s Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky being met by 2008’s landmark Live at Roadburn (discussed here), a watershed moment for the band and the growth of their international influence. That’s a set that those who were there continue to talk about. I’d imagine it’s much the same for anyone who happened to be at the Casbah and hung around to hear Mitchell wish the crowd a Happy New Year after the band wrapped up “Cherry Red.” Hell, I wasn’t even there and I’m talking about it, so yeah. Happy New Year.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

It’s my wedding anniversary this week. I’ve been married for 15 years and we’ve been together for 22. Asking The Patient Mrs. to marry me was hands down the best decision I ever made. Nothing else comes remotely close.

Up and down week, as most seem to be these days. Anxiety about the paperwork end of acquiring the ancestral homestead. The Patient Mrs. busy with the new job. The Pecan not really understanding where his mom is after she just had the summer off from teaching, and mad about it. He had a good day or two this week, one hard day and one medium day. We’ll see how today goes when he wakes up, I guess, but that’s kind of how it is at this point every day. We’ll see how it goes. I’m just trying to get through, honestly.

Tonight is Brant Bjork and Ecstatic Vision in Teaneck, NJ. Same place Crowbar and Lo-Pan played a bit ago. They hit Brooklyn last night with River Cult and It’s Not Night: It’s Space, and that would’ve been awesome to see, but no way was I going to be able to go to NYC two nights in a row after about three hours of sleep and hope to enjoy myself whatsoever. I don’t know much about whoever is opening the Jersey show, but whatever. I’ll put the baby to bed and then head out, and yes, see how it goes.

Review of that on Monday along with a full-album stream of the new Goatess and the new single from Witch Mountain, which isn’t a premiere but is exciting nonetheless. Maybe a Bison Machine stream on Tuesday and a Ramprasad track premiere, Wednesday, Cycles of the Damned do a bit of the extreme post-metal thing, and I think on Thursday I’m going to do myself a favor and review the Blackwater Holylight record. Friday I’ll put up an interview I did last week with Parker Griggs from Radio Moscow where we talk about his new band El Perro. That was pretty cool.

I don’t know if anyone listens to those or not, but I’ve been having fun posting them, so whatever.

It’s about 20 minutes before 6AM, so I think I’m gonna leave it there and maybe go crash for a minute. I was so dead on my feet by the time I was doing dishes after dinner last night. The Pecan had woken up and The Patient Mrs. had him yelling on the baby monitor. She went upstairs to his room to check on him and put him back down and I was unconscious by the time she got back. With another late night pending for tonight, every minute counts.

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe weekend. Forum, radio, merch.

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Nebula Drag to Release Blud Sept. 27

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

nebula drag (Photo by Chad Kelco)

When I finally dug into it — because I’m late to the party, always — I was genuinely into Nebula Drag‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), and you know what? I kind of dig the track they’ve shared so far from the upcoming Blud as well. Hey y’all, I think I might like this band. How about that?

Preorders are up now for Blud, which the based-in-San-Diego-more-in-geography-than-in-sound Nebula Drag will release through Desert Records on Sept. 27, and the songs “Always Dying” and “We all Want to Know” offer chunky-style riffing and a kind of melodified take on ’90s noise rock that hits a sweet spot of heavy without coming across as stylistically redundant or faceless. They’ve got dates booked out west, as one will, and that includes a weekender in the desert next month that I’ll just go ahead and assume is gonna be a good time celebrating the new offering.

That Vegas date is TBA. Somebody call John Gist from Vegas Rock Revolution! Dude should be on that.

Here’s the album info and the aforementioned tracks:

nebula drag blud

Nebula Drag – Blud

Nebula Drag is a psycho-delic three piece rock band from San Diego, CA. Definitely not your typical Southern California band… Nebula Drag’s music gives a nod to Stoner Metal and Psych Rock—all with a sound that is uniquely their own. The haunting and blistering riffs paired with the thunderous drumming comprises the heart of this band. Add the melodic and spaced out vocals to the mix and let a listening journey of the highest caliber begin.

Nebula Drag will be releasing their second album “Blud” on Desert Records in September 2019. Their first self-titled album was released in 2016, and they also released a 3 song ep “Always Dying” in 2017. The band also contributed to the San Diego Gimme Danger compilation in 2018, released by Fresh Pots Music.

Tracklisting
1. Dos Lados
2. Knives
3. Always Dying
4. Dogs or Gods
5. We All Want to Know
6. Faces
7. What Went Wrong
8. Numb
9. Infinite Vacation
10. Mental

2019 Performance Dates:
9/10 – The Merrow – San Diego, CA
9/14 – Tower Bar – San Diego, CA
9/26 – T.B.A. – Las Vegas, NV
9/27 – Time Out Lounge – Tempe, AZ
9/28 – Sister Bar – Albuquerque, NM

Nebula Drag is:
Corey Quintana – Guitar/Vocals
Stephen Varns – Drums
Garrett Gallagher – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/NebulaDragz/
https://www.instagram.com/nebuladrag/
https://nebuladrag.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/desertrecordlabel/
https://desertrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://desertrecords.bandcamp.com

Nebula Drag, Blud (2019)

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Monarch Premiere “Counterpart” Video; Beyond the Blue Sky out Aug. 9

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monarch

The kind of sunshine that the rest of the world imagines only exists in Southern California plays a significant role in the listening experience of Monarch‘s second album, Beyond the Blue Sky. The title, of course, isn’t about the sun, but about the entirety of space, and the idea of leaving the planet’s atmosphere behind to launch into the void beyond. Fair enough for the cosmic impulses the classically progressive San Diego five-piece weave into the seven tracks/38 minutes of the El Paraiso Records LP, but they remain grounded with a natural sense of songwriting beneath the wash of effects, lush echoes, sax, synth and so on, as songs like opener “Hanging by a Thread” sneak their way into the frontal cortex and set up shop there via guitar-in-triplicate and groove to match, the band pushing aside some of the boogie for which their home-burg is known in favor of these interplanetary ambitions. Oh, it suits them just fine, whether in the ol’ roll ‘n’ nod of the aforementioned leadoff or the sax-laden fluidity of “Divided Path,” which follows.

“Hanging by a Thread” is both the opener and the longest song on Beyond the Blue Sky at 7:06 (immediate points), and “Divided Path,” “Pangea” and the centerpiece title-track follow in descending order (quadruple points?), so monarch beyond the blue skythe intent on Monarch‘s part toward listener-immersion is pretty well telegraphed, but as ever for the best of psychedelic rock, the point of the voyage is the going, and they go pretty far out. With the vocals of guitarist Dominic Denholm cutting through the wash of tone and fuzz on “Divided Path,” calling to mind Greg Lake-era King Crimson on the jazzy “Pangea” and the flow conjured all around by fellow guitarists Thomas Dibenedetto (also Sacri Monti) and James Upton, bassist Matt Weiss and Andrew Ware, unafraid to tap into country sweetness on “Beyond the Blue Sky” itself at the outset of a three-parter with the synthy “Phenomena” and the shimmering psych of “Counterpart” rounding out, with watery closer “Felo de Se” still to arrive, there’s no question they reach the level of engagement they seem to be shooting for at the launch, pulling their audience with them as they make every effort to live up to the title and, seemingly, getting there as well. Like its predecessor, Two Isles (review here), Beyond the Blue Sky has more than a few moments of outright gorgeousness, but it’s the way it all complements each other that makes it so essential.

Which it is. Even among the crowded ranks of San Diego, Monarch stand themselves out through the progressive modus of their approach, and while they share an affinity for classic stylizations with a good number of their peers, their take on it is decidedly their own and shines through performance and songwriting alike.

You can check out the premiere of a tripped-out video for “Counterpart” below, made by Ricky Macaw, who pretty much nailed it. Beyond the Blue Sky is out Aug. 9.

Enjoy:

Monarch, “Counterpart” official video premiere

There’s something refreshing about Monarch’s take on psychedelic rock: they aren’t afraid to weave allman brothers-esque dual guitar lines with synthesizers and saxophone. They can be heavy, but there’s an unmistakable panoramic quality to their compositions too, reflecting the rich and diverse environment they’ve grown up in, with dazzling pacific coastlines, mountains and desert highways.

Compared to their debut album, ”Two Isles” from 2016, Beyond The Blue Sky is a more complex record. The three year journey has led the band through several separate recording sessions and ended up going all-analog at Audio Design studios. It’s an album that’s meticulously crafted and with sights set on new musical territory. Their songwriting has matured and each track feels like a mini-epic, travelling unexpected routes before reaching their sonic destination. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the album’s centerpiece, the three-part Beyond The Blue Sky/Phenomena/Counterpart, where Monarch manages to fuse all their influences into one mammoth composition. It’s an album to drive off into a careless summer sunset and beyond.

Monarch is:
Dominic Denholm – Guitar/Vocals
Thomas Dibenedetto – Guitar
James Upton – Guitar
Matt Weiss – Bass
Andrew Ware – Drums

Monarch on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records website

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